Pursuits that make for better hobbies than jobs

Every so often I get comments asking why T doesn’t become a chef (see: Boyfriend in the kitchen). He also gets the same query in real life from friends once in a while, particularly as one of his distant buddies is in the business himself.

It’s simple, really: cooking is one of those things that often makes for a better hobby than a career. Obviously, this isn’t a blanket rule, but in this case, it’s true.

The hours and the pay aren’t great. And progressing to the stage where you actually have real creative control? I suppose you might reach that point quicker if you had, say, your own catering business instead, but again, I don’t think this would be a good choice to fit in with the kind of lives we want to live.

Occasionally he likes to pontificate about how we should start our own cafe/restaurant after a disappointing experience dining out or a particularly ridiculous episode of Kitchen Nightmares – HOW do some of those incompetents ever get started? But I can’t think of anything worse – long and late hours, huge investment in a brick-and-mortar venture, low margins, stress and a high chance of failure. We are both interested in working to live, not living to work, and that’s especially true on his part.

Being able to put together amazing meals on the fly is a wonderful talent, but I don’t think it necessarily translates well to the daily bulk grind of a commercial kitchen. I’m almost certain it might even leach out the enjoyment altogether – in many cases turning a hobby into a career ends up killing the magic. Plus, every essay I’ve ever read by a chef or the spouse of a chef reiterates that they never cook at home. Call me selfish, but I want to keep his skillz for myself.

If cooking was a calling, a burning and all-consuming passion, it might be worth the sacrifices – but it’s not. It’s just one of the many things he’s picked up over the years (including welding, installing car audio, skating, and others) and happens to be outlandishly good at. Now if only he could figure out a direction…

There are lots of other pursuits of which you could say the same. Writing, while a wonderful hobby, is ostensibly one of them. Sports. Acting. Art. Music (for about five minutes back in high school, I was contemplating doing a degree in contemporary rock music).

Got any to add to the list? Ever been told “you’re so good at [X], you should do it for a living”? Or flagged a career path for lifestyle reasons?

17 thoughts on “Pursuits that make for better hobbies than jobs

  • Reply krantcents April 12, 2013 at 08:22

    I remember my mother saying I was “money crazy” which was her way of saying I liked money. I turned it into a profession. I rose to Chief Financial Officer and went out on my own. I was really good with money and numbers and made my income property into a success. Doing what you love usuaqlly turns into success.

    • Reply eemusings April 12, 2013 at 09:14

      Hmm, I’d have to disagree with that. It all depends how marketable your passion is. It’s a lot easier to make money if you’re into number crunching than if you’re into writing poetry or making films, for example.

  • Reply CashRebel April 12, 2013 at 10:01

    My parents alway thought that id be a journalist, but im quite glad I never tried to make it in that field. Working as an engineer just fulfills me more, and its pretty tough to make a living as a journalist these days

    • Reply eemusings April 12, 2013 at 10:53

      I’m a journalist. It’s not an easy path to take and getting harder all the time – I’m still in the industry, but I don’t know if I still will be in five years.

  • Reply Morgaine April 12, 2013 at 10:14

    I make jewellry as a hobby. I have an Etsy store but there is no way I’d be able to pull this off full-time. Because costume jewellry can be purchased so cheaply I rarely get back more than the cost of my materials and even that sometimes people don’t really want to pay for. Because I can’t get a lot of materials in bulk you end up paying a lot more for the materials you do get which jacks up the price. Maybe I just have cheap friends, but none of them buy my jewellry because they can get cheaper items in a non-botique store. But I enjoy it, so I keep doing it ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply eemusings April 12, 2013 at 10:52

      Heh, I had a friend in high school who made jewellery and sold stuff to a lot of our buddies. The pieces all fell apart pretty quickly though, so her business didn’t last long, I don’t think.

  • Reply Kara April 12, 2013 at 11:08

    Oh my goodness. Don’t get me started. I’m a professional photographer. Yeah. First of all, I became a photographer because, yes, I love photography, but it’s not just the picture taking part of it that I love. I love being a business owner. I love being an entrepreneur. I actually enjoy crunching numbers (as long as I don’t have to do it all the time). I love love love weddings (which is what I primarily shoot). I understand that my business is not about “oh you get to take pictures for 8 hours on a Saturday and make thousands of dollars”. I accept that I pay taxes (more than the average employee), I have to carry 4 different kinds of insurance (not including personal health insurance), I have to budget for months where I might not have any money coming in. The list is long.

    And even so, I still have a day job. Because the amount of time and stress and effort in earning my entire living from photography is more than I want to deal with (I did it for 7 years).

    It makes me INSANE when I hear people say “oh X takes good photos (or even worse “X has a really nice camera”) so she should think about becoming a professional photographer!”

    Bah. Rant. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And yes, I love to cook, too, and can whip up some pretty decent meals at the drop of a hat. I’m cooking for a friend’s baby shower in 4 weeks and I’m happy to do it. But you know what? Taht doesn’t mean I want to open a restaurant, become a caterer, or go to cooking school. (Ok, maybe cooking school would be fun, if I didn’t have to actually go work in the industry.)

    Sometimes people need to remember that a hobby is just a hobby. And they also need to remember is that when you turn a hobby into a business you wind up doing about 10% of the stuff that you enjoyed as a hobby (cooking, making jewelry, photographing, weaving baskets) and 90% of managing a business. If you don’t love managing a business, then stick with the hobby. You’ll be a lot happier and have a lot more money in your pocket!!

  • Reply Amanda @ Gourmanda April 12, 2013 at 11:43

    One of my resolutions is to try a career in food at some point in the next three roles I take on.

    HOWEVER, I’m realistic enough to realise that I wouldn’t cut it in a kitchen, or front of house, or anything like that. Rather, I’d prefer to continue down my current career path (marketing communications), but to find a role in marcomms within the food industry.

    Whether it’s PR for restaurants, digital marketing for large brands, or whatever – just something within the industry to prove to myself that I either can or can’t turn my passion into my day job.

  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies April 12, 2013 at 12:02

    Mr. PoP’s baby brother is a line chef. He finds it significantly more rewarding than the construction work he used to do. And it’s possible to make decent money at it… he works at resorts where he usually gets subsidized housing while he’s working in season. Then he takes time off between the seasons before moving on to the next resort. So far it’s good for him while he’s still pretty young and doesn’t have any desire to settle down with a family or anything like that.

  • Reply Revanche April 12, 2013 at 12:13

    Hm, one of my hobbies turned into my career but it didn’t stay precisely in that form. I ended up building on my other personal strengths from there and it’s stayed … relatively enjoyable. And of course, on the side, I pick up a lot of extra work (unpaid ๐Ÿ˜› ) career coaching, or editing resumes. Which is fine but I go back and forth on whether I’d want to take that on as a jobbing thing or not. Might get intolerable if I had to do it.

  • Reply Jane April 12, 2013 at 12:28

    I am pretty good at drawing/art, and I enjoy making handmade cards and illustrations. Would I enjoy it if I were living on an artist’s salary and/or giving up complete creative control? Probably not.

    For me to be happy, I need a job that gives me time (and money) for family, hobbies, and travel. I think I’d be miserable as a business owner. Entrepreneurship is definitely not for everyone.

  • Reply Mochimac @ Save. Spend. Splurge. April 12, 2013 at 13:24

    Blogging. I was told to do it for a living. Laughed inside because it couldn’t come near to what I make in my real job (that is kind of more fun…).

    Blogging is great as a hobby, not as a career. Becomes awful as a career… you’re at the mercy of Google.

    As for BF, he is also a great chef (they should get together and make us a feast).. but he has said it’s just a hobby, not a career because the pay sucks and the hours are long.

  • Reply Justin April 12, 2013 at 21:50

    Sometimes you just don’t want to do something all the time. It’s a passion because you’re able to do it rarely.
    Plus, it’s stressful when you’re a chef of a popular place. Orders need to go out quickly, look good and if you burn something. well it’s no fun.

  • Reply Living Debt Free Rocks! April 13, 2013 at 00:42

    My mom invested a lot in my music lessons but I don’t think she ever expected me to take it as far as I did. Still, I didn’t look at it as a career path even though I majored in music while in CEGEP. For me it was less than a career but definitely more than a hobby since I gave so much of my time to it and I also earned a good amount from performances. I am considering returning to music this year since I miss it so much.

  • Reply Stephanie April 14, 2013 at 08:00

    Whoops, I accidentally hit enter accidentally back there!

    I have been told that I should be a classical musician. And even though I am good at playing classical music, I don’t have enough passion for it. These careers with low profit margins are for the people who are so passionate, they get extra utility from it that other higher-paying careers don’t make. In economic analysis, people always talk about “utility” rather than “dollars”, or any other form of currency. It is easy to mistake “utility” for money, but they leave the definition of utility open for reasons like this.

    My high school music teachers didn’t make that much money, but they all were extremely happy people.

  • Reply Updates: April 7 – 13 | The Outlier Model January 18, 2014 at 08:19

    […] NZ Muse explains why some pursuits make for better hobbies than jobs. […]

  • Reply Winnie August 5, 2014 at 00:27

    I love looking through a post that will make men and women think.

    Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!

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